Can an employer deny you personal leave and non-work hours if you gave notice in advance about using them?

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Can an employer deny you personal leave and non-work hours if you gave notice in advance about using them?

I’m moving and I gave a written letter that my last day would be in 3 months on the 13th (however I have 160 personal leave hours to use and 72 non-work hours). So my last physical day will be in about 3 weeks. I was very upfront about this when I turned my letter in but HR waited until now to tell me that I cannot have those days off. In our policy handbook it says they cannot deny on basis of why, only if it will interfer with work, and also that it is up to a supervisor for approval. My supervisor said she did not have a probalem with it and I gave plenty of notice, so how can they legally take it?

Asked on May 7, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You may have a cause of action for breach of contract--the agreement, even if oral, between you and your employer, pursuant to which you worked--for denying you the use of a benefit which comprised part of your compensation; not allowing you to use days or hours which you earned or accrued is the equivalent of taking away part of your pay.

However, bear in mind that it is not guaranteed that you would win the case; even if your immediate supervisor approved the use, if some higher-level manager felt that it would interfere with work and could substantiate it, they may be able to show that they legally denied you the hours. For example, since you are leaving in 3 weeks, they could possibly argue persuasively that they need you actually working every day, until the last day, to get as much of your work done as possible and for the transition or hand-off to whomever will take over after you. Thus, while from what you write, you have a viable case in the sense of one which you could bring, it is not a given that you would win.


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